Whitey’s Restaurant is an institution in Wilmington, North Carolina. The Southern restaurant along with the companion Whitey’s El-Berta motel (which has already been closed and torn down) will soon be history according WWAY TV 3 and a waitress at the homey little establishment.
History of Whitey’s Wilmington
Herbert King initially opened the El-Berta motel on Market Street in the early 1950s. The 18-room motel was named in honor of his wife Berta, and the owners added the “El” after having seen that combination used by other motels in the Florida area.
The motel is a one level facility and rooms were still opened with old-fashioned keys at the time the operation was closed.
The restaurant is a separate building painted white with a red roof and is located next to the site of the original motel on the corner of Kerr and Market Streets.
The Prevatte family purchased the facilities in the 1970s, and Whitey was added to the already familiar landmarks.
Where Did the Name Whitey Come About?
Visitors to Wilmington, NC often wonder why the quaint looking little restaurant is called Whitey’s. The answer is simple. The owner Horace Prevatte is nicknamed “Whitey,” so he simply added his own name to the restaurant co-owned along with his two sons, Mike and Brian.
What’s Special About Whitey’s of Wilmington?
Whitey’s is an old fashioned diner-like restaurant where locals gather and start the day with a hearty breakfast served through the afternoon. A good number of onliners have posted about various special memories at the soon-to-be-closed restaurant.
During the summer season, in particular, tourists stop by to get the flavor of a real Southern breakfast or the delicious soups and burgers served at lunch time. Whitey’s has a reputation for the best pancakes in Wilmington, and their biscuits and gravy are as Southern as it gets and excellent. Whitey’s offers a buffet, so visitors who have trouble deciding what to try can sample a variety from the all-you-can-eat offerings.
Yes. Michael Jordan Did Work at Whitey’s.
Another question that is often asked is: Did Michael Jordan work at Whitey’s. And, the answer is: yes.
Michael Jordan did work at Whitey’s, and his first paycheck stub from his after-school job there is on display at the Cape Fear Museum at 814 Market Street in Wilmington.
Why is Whitey’s Being Closed?
Several things combine to bring an end to this historic and popular Wilmington restaurant. The owners are getting up in years, and the facilities are ageing as well so would need extra maintenance and remodeling.
In addition, Whitey’s is located on prime Wilmington real estate. So, the property is valuable. A privately owned restaurant (and small hotel) does not generate the income that other establishments could in the same space and location.
Another key factor is also a plan by the city to expand the width of the road. If the roads are widened, then that would cut into the restaurant lot which is a corner property. In fact, locals claim that the wider road would cut right through the dining room.
The Future with Whitey’s Southern Restaurant Gone?
News reports indicate that Walgreens drugstore wants the corner lot on Kerr and Market. The large chain drugstore company tends to locate on corner properties. The project is still in the planning stages, since the city must approve the demolition of the landmark restaurant first.
In the meantime, Whitey’s is still open and serving delicious Southern food. But, if you want to eat at Whitey’s, you will have to hurry. By all accounts, the classic Wilmington restaurant will soon be torn down to make way for wider roads and another drugstore.